We welcome the news that the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation in S. Korea has finally been dismantled. Established in 2016 as part of the flawed 2015 “comfort women” agreement between S. Korea and Japan, the Japanese government claimed the foundation was intended to help survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery, but it—and the rest of the agreement—was denounced by the victims because their input was never sought. The most offensive part of the original agreement was the declaration that it was “final and irreversible,” suggesting that reparations had been made unequivocally, when in fact the Japanese government has still not issued a formal apology for their past war crimes.
We are reminded that the disbandment of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation teaches all of us an empowering lesson from history that no government can stand in the way of restoring the human rights of and justice for victims of Japanese military sex slaves. This redress movement is also a significant reminder to the perpetrators and the victims of sexual violence in the past and today that crimes associated with sexual violence will not be tolerated and that justice lives.
Though cabinet members in the Japanese government insist that the agreement stands, we understand that since the two main enactments—the establishment of the center and the donation of 1 billion JYP—have been annulled, the agreement is, in actuality, nullified.